Three years removed from a NBA championship (one that definitely feels longer than it really is), the Dallas Mavericks find themselves at a crossroads. Stuck in the worst place where you can be as an NBA team, the middle of the board or as some would call it “The Meaty Part of the Curve.”
What’s “The Meaty Part of the Curve”? Well, you’re not bad enough to be rewarded with a lottery pick nor good enough to be considered a contender, you’re just there. In George Costanza’s words, “Right in that meaty part of the curve — not showing off, not falling behind.”
Competing in the loaded West isn’t and won’t be easy for a while, this season we saw a 48-win team (the Phoenix Suns) not being able to lock a spot in the playoffs. As I explained in this piece, such record would’ve been enough to earn them the third or fourth seed, minding tiebreakers, in the vastly inferior East.
After a 49-win season, logging in their best season in three years, the Mavericks had to reel in some crucial wins over the Memphis Grizzlies and the Phoenix Suns to keep their hopes alive and get the last spot in the 2014 playoffs. The Mavericks left the playoffs after a seven-game first-round series against the much superior four-time NBA champion and 2014 West champion San Antonio Spurs.
Led by an unstoppable basketball force in Dirk Nowitzki (with arguably the most unstoppable move in NBA history) and savvy businessman Mark Cuban, they’ve become a pinnacle in the franchise building and their reputation’s been cemented as one of the most experienced, well-managed and toughest teams to beat in the league. Still, actions that’ll define the franchise’s future are yet to be seen.
Not having a first-round pick in the upcoming draft (sent to Oklahoma City [via Dallas - Lakers Dec. 11, 2011, Houston - Lakers March 15, 2012, Houston - Oklahoma City Oct. 27, 2012.]) the Mavericks own the 34th draft pick for 2014, not exactly the place you’d want to be in what seems to be the best draft class in 25 years.
If the chips fall where they may, the Mavericks are looking at shooting guard Jordan Adams, a “great” scorer with a lack of athleticism and a paint-scoring weakness who’s coming out of a .48/.38/.83 *meh* season, their situation might be cemented just as well.
The team’s also, according to reports, bringing in Melbourne Tigers guard, Australian
sensation Chris Goulding for the summer league, whether he’ll be able to clinch a spot in the team is unknown. The team could use someone to take Monta Ellis‘ rest minutes.
Are the Mavericks in trouble? Not quite. Being a three-years removed NBA champion does not exactly spell trouble for basketball franchises. Should they do something to try and avoid it? Certainly. Being more of a Tim Duncan than a Russell Westbrook, Dirk Nowitzki’s 35 years and 15 seasons look like haven’t taken a huge toll on his body, so he should be fine with playing at a high-level for three more years. Still, even if Cuban’s not trading Dirk, even for LeBron James, he should start getting a feel for the field and start thinking about the Mavericks’ “post-Dirk” future since it’s sure coming.